The Commerce Department updates its policies to stop China from getting advanced computer chips

Oct 17, 2023, 5:46 AM

FILE - Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transporta...

FILE - Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing Oct. 4, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Commerce Department on Oct. 17 updated and broadened its export controls to stop China from acquiring advanced computer chips and the equipment to manufacture them. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

(AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department on Tuesday updated and broadened its export controls to stop China from acquiring advanced computer chips and the equipment to manufacture them.

The revisions come roughly a year after the export controls were first launched to counter the use of the chips for military applications that include the development of hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence.

“These export controls are intended to protect technologies that have clear national security or human rights implications,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on a call with reporters. “The vast majority of semiconductors will remain unrestricted. But when we identify national security or human rights threats, we will act decisively and in concert with our allies.”

The updates stemmed from consulting with industry and conducting technological analyses. There will now be a gray zone that will be monitored for chips that could still be used for military aims even if they might not meet the thresholds for trade limitations.

Chip exports can also be restricted to companies headquartered in Macao or anywhere under a U.S. arms embargo, preventing countries of concern from circumventing the controls and providing chips to China.

The updates also introduce new requirements that make it more difficult for China to manufacture advanced chips abroad. The list of manufacturing equipment that falls under the export controls has also been expanded, among other changes to the policy.

The export controls announced last year were a source of frustration for the Chinese government, which viewed the design and manufacturing of high-level semiconductors as essential for its economic and geopolitical goals. Raimondo has said the limits on these chips are not designed to impair China’s economic growth.

In an August meeting, Raimondo and her Chinese counterparts agreed to exchange information about the export controls. But a senior administration official, insisting on anonymity to discuss the policy, said the U.S. government did not discuss with China the parameters of the revised export controls. China’s No. 2 leader, Premier Li Qiang, appealed for “concrete actions” by Washington to improve relations, a reference to Chinese pressure for changes in U.S. policy on technology, Taiwan and other issues.

Chinese government officials are scheduled to go to San Francisco in November for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

President Joe Biden has suggested he could meet on the sidelines of the summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though a meeting has yet to be confirmed. The two leaders met last year following the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, shortly after the export controls were announced.


This story has been corrected to show the spelling is Macao, not Macau.

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The Commerce Department updates its policies to stop China from getting advanced computer chips